Bedtime Story

8 September, 2011 at 22:30 (Flash) (, , , , , , , )

“Daddy, just one more?” she asked, her big blue eyes looking up into his.

He smiled down at her. “One more.”
Then he looked down at the book in his hand and read the next story, ‘A Christmas Angel’, this one was about an angel who ate too many christmas biscuits. She fell asleep when he was about half way through reading it. When he heard her breathing become even and slow he put down the book and let the tears flow.

The nurse poked her head through the door. “Mr Chambers?”

He looked up at her.

“There are some more papers for you to sign.”

He nodded and got up, leaving the book on the chair besides the bed. It had been her favourite book when she was a kid, when she had been about seven she’d recieved it for Christmas and he hadn’t been allowed not to read from it for her bedtime story. Now she was thirty-seven and here in the terminal cancer ward he read it to her again. This time though, when she closed her eyes and slept he didn’t wish for her to wake with her dreams fulfilled, he just wished for her to wake at least once more.


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6 September, 2011 at 11:28 (Flash) (, , , , )

She cried, she knew she wasn’t being a good, brave girl, but she couldn’t help it, the tears just came. She sniffed, hard. Then she peered between the bannisters of the landing, that wasn’t anygood as the tears came again, harder, when she caught sight of the glint in Mary’s hand.

Mummy had given her the small tub of glitter that morning and she had put two small dabs of it on her cheeks. She had said it was fairy dust and it had made her smile, even though she had known really that it was just glitter and not really fairy-dust.

When Mary had seen the glitter on her cheeks she had wanted some as well and when she had got the tub out of her pocket to put it on Mary’s cheeks Mary’s eyes had glittered.
“Give it to me.” she had demanded.
“But it’s mine.”
“It’s my birthday.” Mary had said. “Give it to me.”

Then Mary had started crying, very, very loudly and the nursery nurse had come over to see what the matter was.
“It’s my birthday!” Mary had wailed first. “And she won’t give it me back.”

It was the word ‘back’ that had surprised her, and that meant that when the nursery nurse had told her to give the tub to Mary she had done so.
Now she sat upstairs and tried not to cry because she knew it wasn’t really her Mum’s fairydust and she did want to be a big, brave girl. She just couldn’t seem to stop.

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The Manatee Army

16 August, 2011 at 17:41 (Flash) (, , , , , , , , , )

He pressed his hand to her slightly clammy forhead, he couldn’t tell if she had much of a temperature today or not. He wished passionately his wife was there, she was so much better at this sort of thing than he was.

“You don’t have too much of a temperature today.” he said.

“It’s the manatees Daddy,” she said. “They took it away with them.”

He had to smile at that, he’d had no idea what a manatee was when he made up the first story of an invisible manatee army protecting his ill little girl, he’d just liked the word. As it turned out so had she and she’d demanded a picture of the strange creatures so she could better picture what her invisible army looked like. When he’d told her of the argument with the Dugong tribe that lived next door she’d asked for a picture as well. She had spent days, floating in a of fevered state of awareness, staring at the sea cows’ images until she had quite frightened him when she told him that she could ‘sort of see’ her army dancing their lucky get well dance around her bed.

“Tell me a story about the manatees, Daddy.”

He sat next to her on the bed and put one arm around her. It had become quite a refrain of hers. She especially liked the ones which ended with a manatee dance. Manatees’ dances were magical and caused all manner of ills to be fixed. It was by dancing that the manatees had taken away her temperature. It was also by dancing that they had eventually made peace with the Dugong tribe next door.

“Tell me where they took Mummy, Daddy.”

He was unable to speak for a moment. The question he’d been dreading had been already answered to be replaced by something unexpected. There was no doubt in her mind where Mummy had gone, the manatees, the answer to everything, had clearly taken her. But how could he tell her a manatee story when there was no happy ending?

She was looking up at him expectantly from the bed. He cleared his throat, wanting to explain to her that life on a remote island had seemed so exciting from the mainland, so romantic and that that was why they were here. He wanted to explain too that they hadn’t counted on meningitis, nor concentrating on the illness of their little girl to the exclusion of her mother.

He cleared his throat again.

“Once upon a time, when the manatee army was very busy they saw a very pretty lady who was very, very sick…”

One day, when she was older, he’d explain it all to her, but today there would be manatees instead.

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